I was irritated yesterday to hear that Hamleys had succumbed to a Twitter campaign and had changed its traditional arrangement of toys. It used to be that Boys' Toys were on some floors and Girls' Toys were on another. So you might see, on the one hand, an array of cars, fighting heroes and action toys; or on the other, lots of pink fluffy things.
But this was terrible gender steroetyping, apparently; although, in fact, there were no security guards turning the girls away from the train sets (the only bit of Hamleys my wife remembers visiting as a child) or excluding boys from the Barbie aisle.
The campaign reflects the orthodoxy that masculine and feminine identities are largely social constructs. That is the belief that has driven the re-shaping of education in this country and the US for decades: removing all boy connotations from Maths and the Sciences, and all girl connotations from arts, humanities and cooking... And when that didn't work, disallowing choice, as the naughty children continued to choose the 'wrong' (ie gender typical) subjects when allowed to do so - as they still tend to do when allowed (eg at University level). So the praxis has had little effect on getting girls into maths and the sciences, as was the avowed intention. It may have had a huge unintended side-effect, one could reasonably argue, in turning large numbers of boys off a feminised education altogether (parallels with the feminisation of liturgy in the Catholic Church are of course wholly inappropriate and should not even be considered).
So the orthodoxy (despite the evidence, one could argue) is that gender stereotyping and other 'nurture' factors determine, or at least strongly influence, gender identity.
EXCEPT when it comes to homosexuality (and various other things in the LGBT morass). These are of course innate and immutable. There is no possibility that, for example, gay teachers, or gay parents, or gay text books will alter, influence or confuse the gender identity of kids, nor that gay people are in fact socially constructed to feel as they do. No, no, no... that way heresy lies...
The Missionary Option - The School of the Annunciation are holding a Guild Day this Saturday, 31st January at St. Patrick's, 21a Soho Square, London W1D 4NR. This will present an...
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